Nanaimo Tells Wheelabrator to Go Away


B. McPherson
Disposal by dispersal is not the answer.
The power of united people was evident on Monday night. Nanaimo City Council voted to tell Wheelabrator that they weren’t welcome in the city or in the Regional District. This is the culmination of hard work and determination on the part of citizens concerned with the ramifications of building a modern garbage burner in the city.

The pressure has been steady since last July when the Board of the Regional District voted to tell Metro Vancouver that a waste to energy facility in the district was not welcome. Some on the city council kept Wheelabrator and Sea Span’s hopes alive until finally spiking it Monday with a unanimous vote.
The councillors and mayor have been inundated with thousands of letters urging them to forbid the incineration of garbage in our environs. The Friday preceding the council meeting saw a well-organized, peaceful protest march of a couple of hundred marchers. Bear in mind that Nanaimo City has a population of a little over 80 000. Over 12,000 people signed petitions against installing an incinerator. Monday saw about 700 people turn out with signs to protest, a flash mob stopped traffic for a few minutes, dancing.

The mood of the crowd was electric as people crowded into the council chambers, built for 400 and overcapacity. About 200 remained in the building watching the proceedings on TV and more stayed outside with their signs. Leading up to the meeting, chants and counterchants revved up the crowd. The mayor appealed for quiet and respect for the speakers and by a whole the crowd was.

Needless to say the people were very happy when the representative from Sea Span, John Lucas, spoke to tell them that they were withdrawing their proposal to site the garbage burner on their land. They were ecstatic when council voted unanimously to put quit to the issue.

The crown, now cheerfully piled back out on the street, big smiles all around. There certainly was no need for the RCMP to attend to maintain order. But someone had called them.

People generally are getting better informed about the negative effects of garbage burners turned out and sold to the public as Waste to Energy (WTE) facilities. Even small towns with high unemployment know that no matter if you put lipstick on it, it’s still a pig.

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